- Author: Marime Burton
White potato vine, or Solanum jasminoides if you’re being formal, doesn’t look anything like a potato and grows up rather than underground. Its leaves are nearly always bright green and it produces white flowers even in the winter.
It disguises old fences nicely and can be trained to grow all over them. If you prefer it can be trimmed to add just a couple of feet of greenery to the top of a fence that’s not quite tall enough to hide your neighbor’s unkempt backyard.
The vine is soft and pliable and easy to cut which makes pruning a relatively simple job.
It can get bushy if not trimmed occasionally, and may try to get away from you, which could require a harder pruning. Afterward, agreeable as the White Potato Vine is, it will bounce right back to a more reasonable size and shape.
From the beginning white potato vine grows without much fuss. Weather doesn’t seem to affect it, most any soil is just fine, thank you, and it requires little water after the first year or two.
Its versatility, relatively low maintenance and nearly year-round green and white presence make White Potato Vine a great garden background.
- Author: Susan Christiansen
So it’s the end of the summer garden, and you still have tomatoes on the vine; however, they are not ripening. Being Dutch, I cannot stand to waste anything, so what to do? Green Tomato Pie. It’s easy, it’s tasty, and it’s thrifty.
You can use any kind of tomato: yellow, red, purple; so long as they are green. I pulled the plants to make way for a winter garden and then pulled off the green tomatoes, trying to get the medium sized ones. You will need four cups of thinly sliced tomatoes for one pie. Green tomato pie tastes like a cross between apple and mince pie so it might
make an interesting, surprising substitute for traditional Thanksgiving pie.
Green Tomato Pie
Pastry for 9 inch pie (top and bottom)
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
5 tbsp. Flour
1 tsp. Nutmeg
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
4 c. thinly sliced green tomatoes
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Grated lemon peel
1 tbsp. Butter
Mix sugars, flour and spices. Arrange a layer of tomato slices on the bottom of pie shell. Sprinkle with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Continue alternating layers until the pie shell is full. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture on top and dot with butter. Sprinkle lemon juice and rind on top. Put top crust on and bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes or until brown.
- Author: Betsy Lunde
Did your Mother or Grandmother have a “wax plant” when you were young? Did you notice those twining tendrils wrapping round and round a small plastic trellis or perhaps a tall, thin slat of wood? How about the tight cluster of white or light pink flowers looking rather like other-worldly flowers – thick and waxy, looking as though made from porcelain – hence the name “wax plant. Welcome to the world of the hoya, a group of 200 or more species of the Asclopiadaceae family. These root-climbing, twining or loose shrubs are native to India, S. China, to some Pacific Islands, as well as Australia. They are evergreen with fleshy or leathery leaves. In our clime, hoyas are strictly indoor plants, although there are a few varieties that are only for those with greenhouses; this is because hoyas prefer the moist, warm atmosphere along with a little shade, and well-drained soil.
Hoyas are one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. You water them and then let the soil dry out between watering. One rule however: never cut off a flowering “spur”; the reason is that the new blooms will form on these with the “spurs” growing longer and longer with each bloom. These plants prefer to be root-bound in their pots in order to bloom, so they are not exactly for those who want instant bloom. Some of mine have been in their 8 inch pots for years and show no signs of wanting a larger pot.
I have 14 hoyas living in my home; some are in the eating area where they receive bright morning light and sun, while others are in the spare bedroom where they receive Southern light and no real sun. Still others are growing the mostly shaded area of my family room. Foliage sizes range from the mammoth leaf of the Hoya lauterbachii, with its silky, rather furry leaves measuring 6 inches long and 4 inches wide to the very delicate leaves of the Hoya shepherdi (longifolia) which has foliage 10 inches long and
¾ inch wide. My newest specimen is the Hoya odorata which has foliage 2 inches by 1 inch and when it blooms will have a loose, large cluster of white blossoms which resemble shooting stars with a rather distinct rather sweet odor. I had one years ago and gave it away and have never (to this time) had another one last any length of time. So far, I’m on a roll – had the latest one 1 month without succumbing “to the elements” as my Mother would say.
The beauty for me is looking at them weekly and seeing where the tendrils go. One of them hangs straight down for about 2 feet. It is a Hoya carnosa or Hindu rope vine which can grow to 10 feet with the twisted and crinkled leaves held close to the stem. This gives a rather thick coiled appearance to the plant, but is very light weight. This plant hasn’t bloomed yet as it’s only been in the current pot for 5 years. According to the various books I’ve read, I can expect white flowers with pink centers that will have a slight scent. I’m waiting for that, I tell you!
Most of my collection have leaves of solid dark green. However, the plant I have had the longest has leaves of light green; no amount of fertilizer has turned those leaves darker. Another hoya has grey metallic blotches on the leaves; another has dark green leaves variegated with yellowy white.
I enjoy this interesting and unusual family of plants in my home. They give me a big bang for the buck, so to speak, without being needy and can go for a while without much care. As I also have ferns in the house, this aspect is quite appealing!
The next time you receive a Logee Greenhouse catalog, check out the selection of hoyas. Another good source for hoyas and other indoor plants is Glasshouse Works in Stewart , Ohio. Lovely plants and lovely-meaning low—prices! I think you may re-think having “old fashioned” house plants. I know I did!
- Author: Mary B. Gabbard
As the weather begins to change, I find myself heading outside to garden less and less. This doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to do to winterize my yard, it simply means the feelings to hibernate are growing stronger. Not going outside, nothing to blog about! PG &E has solved my problem. First, need to backtrack a bit. Behind my home is a dead space that allows PG & E access to power lines, which are about 25-30 ft. from my back fence. About 10 years ago, I planted a very small, Fantasy Maple Tree (Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Fantasy’ Maple). Needless to say, as I look out my kitchen window, I see a gorgeous Maple, about 25 feet tall, with the most impressive show of reddish-purple fall colors. (This variety of maple produces no male flowers so no messy spring clean-up.) I’ve been told I must either cut the tree in half or remove it from my yard. Neither option makes me happy. After much deliberation, I have decided to remove the tree. I’m thinking if it’s not removed, the tree will grow back and I’ll be constantly pruning my Maple. The lesson learned is I should have looked into guidelines for planting near power lines before I chose the Fantasy Maple. On the positive side, PG& E is not only helpful with tree removal but also provides a Guide to Small Trees near power lines for Northern California, a “Right Tree Right Place” publication. This publication offers suggestions for landscaping with small trees, planting guides, tree selection, and tree care. Needless to say, I have a feeling another Autumn Fantasy will be showing up elsewhere in my yard!
- Author: Georgia Luiz
November is month of many things. There's Thanksgiving, and Veteran's Day for starters. It's also Prostate Cancer Awareness month. With gardening, the first thing that jumps to mind is Serenoa repens, otherwise known as saw palmetto, which is reputed to aid in prostate health among many other things. Also called the scrub palm, this Florida native can grow in some surprising places such as Alaska due to its cold hardiness to 0 Fahrenheit. It has a slow growth rate with stems that eventually grow into creeping rhizomes, stretching about 15 feet, resulting in clusters of 20 feet or more. It makes a great landscape plant due to its evergreen fan shaped palm leaves and the saw like spines lining the petioles, make it tough to boot. It's small fleshy berries are great for the habitat garden and where the medicinal uses are derived from, although I understand they taste just nasty. Oh well. Leave it to the birds.
(NOTE: Master Gardeners are not doctors and we do not recommend anyone using any type of plant for medicinal purposes.)